Eat the local food.
No good trying to eat sushi in Serbia. Sample the local delicacies for a delicious budget experience.
Eat street food and eat from local bakeries and delis.
Look out for the daily menu in restaurants and cafes. There is a variation in every language, in every country. It will be local, authentic, probably delicious and cheap.
Shop at the markets for local produce that is likely to be cheaper than the food in supermarkets. If your hostel or hotel has a kitchen, cook. If not, picnic and people watch.
Eat according to the season. Eating what’s in season will ensure what you munch is fresh and friendly for your wallet.
Stay away from restaurants with a view
It’s generally assumed that the better the view, the more expensive the menu. Steer clear of restaurants in the town center, with bird’s eye views of the city or that sit on the waterfront as these tend to be overpriced. Stick to side streets with small frontages for more affordable feeds.
Free walking tours operate in practically every major city. They’re tip-based but you shouldn’t feel obliged to offer anything if you can’t afford it or if you’re unsatisfied with your tour. They’re often run by locals or expats who are enthusiastic about the city and are a great way to spend your first day and orientate yourself.
Pick up funzines, free press and street magazines to find cheap local going-ons in the city
Find the cultural centres in the city and ask what exhibitions, projects and gigs are going on.
Stay away from tourist venues
Buskers and street musicians are a great feature about European summer. The lend a certain atmosphere to sun-kissed cobblestones and cost only a donation and a smile.
Venture away from major cities, and you’ll find the prices drop dramatically. If you are on a fixed schedule, pick an area as your focus and explore. Don’t be fooled into thinking that Europe is so compact you can see it a few weeks. Travelling this way will be expensive and less fulfilling, you won’t get the feel of any one destination and spend your whole time on (and paying for) public transport instead.
This option works two-fold. Not only does it mean that you could save money by booking early and online with attraction specials, it also means you won’t have to wait in line when you arrive at the attraction as there is usually a fast-track pre-book line.
Search for tourist deals
Many major cities have tourist passes that allow you to access numerous attractions. Examples of this are Paris Pass and London Pass. They’re especially ideal if you know you’ll be visiting numerous attractions on their access list.
Less common deals you can cash in on include the 2FOR1 London pass. This deal can get you two for one entry into hot attractions such as London Eye and Tower of London and requires that you purchase on ticket on the National Rail on the day of the attraction. Sounds like a battle but if you pop into a railway station and buy the cheapest possible ticket for spare change, you could save a motzah on attraction prices when travelling in pairs.
Travel tips to avoid getting ripped off in Europe
European cities are generally pretty safe and many travellers report feeling overwhelmingly secure walking around. That being said when you are away from home keeping your wits about is essential. The number one tip for safety is to use your common sense and trust your instincts. If you don’t like the feeling you get from someone or someplace stay calm and walk away.
Europe is a big continent. In some countries theft is uncommon. In others, it’s something you need to watch out for. If you practice a few good habits, keep your eyes open and stay aware of your surroundings, more often than not you’ll be fine.
Use good quality materials for luggage and backpacks.
Cheap, flimsy materials can be easily sliced open. If you ever feel unsafe move your backpack to your front. You might not look “cool” but this will ensure you can see your possessions at all times. Also, lock those zips. It’ll make it immediately harder for thieves to prey on you.
Keep your finances apart
Separate your cash and cards and separate them from your back-up cards and passport. Keep an emergency stash of cash separate from everything else. Use a money belt to hide the larger wads of cash and drip it into your wallet if you need to in private places such as the bathroom stall. As a rule of thumb, avoid pulling out large amounts of cash and waving around your valuables like a king as overt displays of wealth can invite the attentions of a Robin Hood.
Bring a lock or use the safety deposit box
Keep your valuables in a safety deposit box in your hotel or locked away in the hostel locker if they have one.
Watch out for pickpockets.
Be aware of the presence of pickpockets, they are famously active in tourist centres like Rome, Barcelona and Milan, but in all big cities you should be careful.
Pickpockets come in all shapes and form from an unsuspecting child to a street performer. To lessen the risk of pickpockets, don’t leave your valuables in your back pocket or in easy to get to places. Keep your wits about you, even when totally lost. It is lost, distracted tourists that draw a pickpocket’s attention.
Also, be careful when using open Wi-Fi. Never access private sensitive information such as your bank account. Leave that to private connections. If you must use open Wi-Fi, use an open or pptp VPN for piece of mind.
Be aware of great deals
If it seems to good to be true, it probably is.
Poverty and homelessness are particularly visible on the Eastern side of Europe. There are more reasons for street-side begging than you might think. Some beggars (particularly if they are children) are pawns in a much wider criminal network. They will not keep the money you give them, but give it to their bosses. Some beggars are really pickpockets, so be careful when opening your wallet or distractedly rummaging through your bags. Some are really just hungry. Use your better judgement.
As old as time itself, a young and beautiful woman approaches a foreign man and flirtatiously suggests they go to a bar for a drink. When the bill comes the unsuspecting victim finds that the price of the the drink was was $500. Ouch. This is rife in Central and Eastern Europe and usually most likely around tourist centres and erotic bars and clubs. In some cases, very big men may force you to pay up or take you to the ATM if you don’t have cash.
Running up the meter by taking a tourist three times around the city to get to the hotel one block away is not unheard of. To lessen the chance of being ripped off, act as though you know where you’re going by pulling your phone out and watching their route. Uber is also a good way to monitor your route as it will be tracked by the app for you.
Make sure that your taxi driver turns the meter on. Don’t listen to stories that it’s broken.
No public transport
You’ll find in smaller airports you’ll be met by a mob of taxi drivers calling out to you for a taxi to get your business. Some of the time, these aren’t the official taxis of the airport and may charge overcharge you. Ignore them and walk straight to the official taxi stand. These taxis will have regulated prices or even set prices so you know you won’t get ripped off. In some airports, such as Podgorica in Montenegro, you’ll hear tale that there is no public transport available and that the only way into the city is taxi. Research prior to arrival whether this is true. In the case of Podgorica, it is not and the train station is less a 5-minute walk away.
Fake police/ticket inspectors
Men wearing serious-looking uniforms with badges demanding on-the-spot cash fines for something bizarre. Alarm bells should be ringing. Don’t hand over cash or your passport to anybody if you suspect they’re not across the board.
This is generally a ploy to distract tourists by pickpockets. The fake charity scam has many faces. Assume that you are giving any money directly to the person who is collecting it and watch your bags and valuables.
Be skeptical of any place in a tourist district that does not advertise prices. You don’t want to pay $100 for a beer.
More common than you might think, it’s relatively easy to rig up a plastic strips that read or photograph your card in an ATM. Before inserting your card, pull on the plastic card slot hard to make sure there’s nothing attached. If something comes out, walk away. Always cover your hand when entering your PIN. Keep an eye on your statements and don’t use any ATM that looks strange.
It’s frequent that at markets and smaller shops, vendors will tell you they don’t have change. If you don’t want to give a tip offer to take your business elsewhere.
No speak English
This can happen anywhere from at the store or at a currency exchange and can mean that you’ll hand over money without knowing how much something actually is.
Phony exchange rates.
Check what the exchange rate is on the day and always ask how much money you will get in return. Often, unscrupulous exchange office will advertise one rate and give another.